By Nina Leah Josie Boretz
If you’ve ever looked dismally at a manual for an electronic and then called the nearest male for assistance you aren’t alone. Many products in today’s market are targeted towards men and are made to be male-friendly, but the team at the Femme Den, powered by Smart Design is changing the rules. They’re mission statement is titled “saving good women from bad design” and their work is all about helping brands like Nike, Target and the U.S Army develop female-friendly products.
According to the Femme Den, because women are the more discriminating and picky consumers, the products that meet their demands turn out to be popular with both sexes, so designing for women makes men happy too. For example in an article by Kate Rockwood called “Forget Shrink it and Pink it: The Femme Den Unleashed”, the Femme Den innovators address the issue of having boobs and wearing scrubs designed for a man. They partnered up with Cardinal Health, which is a $99.5 billion health-care-supply company to design a scrub that was more practical for a woman than the gaping V-neck that is standard. The new scrub has female proportioned measurements that aren’t tight across the hips and bust, have stretch collars that provide plenty of coverage and an adjustable hem. According to Hopkins of the Femme Den “Men don’t even notice the extra room”. The product is truly unisex instead of being designed for men, but okay for women to wear too. You can read the article here: http://www.fastcompany.com/1353548/forget-shrink-it-and-pink-it-femme-den-unleashed
This article was a huge eye-opener for me. I often struggle with setting up electronics and assembling furniture for my apartment and I always wished there was someone designing for me and now that I’ve found out there is, it is exciting. According to the article mentioned above, women influence 80% of household purchases, which is not surprising if we look at who is using the appliances the most in the house. One project that stood out to me on the Femme Den’s website is to design a more femme-friendly gas station. A lot of women struggle with the cold, hefty and burdensome pump and the unsafe and dirty layout, so the Femme Den is working on developing a gas station that fits the bill for women pumping their own gas. Another design they developed was a bake-ware pan by Pyrex that has clearer glass and a new cutout handle. You can view all of the Femme Den’s projects on their website here: http://www.femmeden.com/
Women are intuitive and they like being able to just plug something in and go. Simplicity is key. One of the reasons I prefer Apple to Windows is its user-friendliness. I never had to open my user-manual. I just plugged it in and figured it out. Women also have curvier bodies that require special attention in the design realm. I would never wear my boyfriend’s jeans, which look fine on his flat butt, but would completely hide my shape, and it’s the same with everyday appliances and products. A female U.S Army soldier is going to have a lot more trouble navigating a battlefield in a uniform and backpack designed for a man, and in that situation that kind of bad design can mean a matter of life and death. You can’t just “shrink it and pink it” to make it a female-friendly. It has appeal to a woman’s sensibility and emotions. I’m certainly glad we have the Femme Den working on our side.